Complete Plays Of Bhasa,Text With Introduction and English Translation With Set of 2 Volumes by K.P.A.Menon

Complete Plays Of Bhasa,Text With Introduction and English Translation With Set of 2 Volumes

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Complete Plays Of Bhasa,Text With Introduction and English Translation With Set of 2 Volumes
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Bhasa is perhaps the only poet in the history of our literature,who did not go into the oblivion inspite of his works being lost to the readers for centuries together. His works were not being read nor his plays being enacted anywhere in the country with the exception of the narrow coastal strip of Kerala but the memory remained alive and fresh in the minds of Sanskrit scholars and litterateurs. Kalidasa had spoken about Bhasa's plays with great respect while making his comment - How could any one think about staging the drama of a living poet while he had access to the compositions of such great figures like Bhasa, Saumillaka and Kaviputra? This was the doubt expressed by the Stage Assistant in the prologue. Saumillaka, Kaviputra and many others about whom we get scattered references are no longer remembered today. They were forgotten centuries ago when their compositions ceased to be available to the readers and to the stage but the interest in Bhasa remained alive. It has been mentioned about Svapnavasavadattam that the play stood the test of fire. What was said about the drama could very well be said about the author as well. Bhasa has literally stood the test of fire and re-emerged with undiminished glory.

There are occasional references to Svapnavasavadattam by great literary figures in grammatical treatises and other compositions from the 8th to 12th century. Most of these writers hail from Northern India referred to by the expression bordered by the two mountains, Himavan in the north and Vindhya in the south in the words of the great playwright himself. These references show an intimate acquaintance with the works of the author which induce one to believe that the plays were widely read in those regions in days gone by Absence of fresh references in the form of illustrations in later centuries would seem to indicate that the plays were not extant any more. Some of the dramatis personae of the 'Dream play' like Udayana, Padmavati and Vasavadatta have also been getting prominent mention along with the play but among the compositions of the great dramatist-and the list should indeed have been very long-we come across the names of only four - Pratijnayaugandharayanam, Svapnavasavadattam , Pratima and Madhyamavyayogam. Every one must have been wondering what an excellent treat the `dream play' of Vasavadtta must have been. Was there any hope of coming across at least one out of the four? All efforts were turning out to be futile and everyone thought the plays of Bhasa were to remain nothing but names. when some one tumbled against a lot of thirteen plays in a most unexpected manner. Bhasa was destined to re-emerge in a place to which one finds no reference in anyone of his plays and in a region which he might not have ever visited.

 

REDISCOVERY OF BHASA'S PLAYS

The literary world was suddenly taken by surprise with the announcement made by Mahamahopadhyaya T.Ganapati Sastri, the first curator of the manuscript library of Thiruvananthapuram that twelve plays of Bhasa and a thirteenth one in an incomplete form had been discovered by him from amongst the manuscripts he was handling. There was great jubilation over this epoc making discovery combined with an element of doubt and disbelief in certain quarters. Could they really have been the plays of Bhasa and could they have remained unknown and unidentified so long? Very soon it came to light that the drama with the title of Svapnavasavadattam had been independently discovered by Pandit Anandalvar of the Archaeological Survey of Mysore anu the historian Dr. Vincent Smith had already become aware of the discovery of Bhasa's play.

It is immaterial whether a manuscript of one of the plays had been spotted elsewhere by an archaeologist, nor does it matter whether it was a chance discovery or the result of any diligent search. The fact remains that from the manuscript library of Trivandrum this dedicated scholar was able to unearth thirteen plays of a great dramatist who was identified by him with the great Bhasa to whom tributes had been paid by Kalidasa and others. Starting with ten of the rupakas, Ganapati Sastri was able to get more manuscripts from family collections and bring up the number to thirteen including the incomplete play of Carudattam. Everyone involved in the process or connected in anyway with the discovery deserves our eternal gratitude.

 

Vol-II

In this third volume of Bhasa's dramas are included the two plays centering round Udayana who had become a legendary figure in Ujjayini, the capital of Avanti, Avimarakam, a play with certain mythological and supernatural elements in it and the incomplete play of Carudattam. In order of sequence of events the Pratijnayaugandharayanam precedes Svapnavasavadattam but the two are taken as independent plays, the Svapna being a sequel to Pratijna. In the Svapnavasavadattam, King Udayana is the central character whereas, in the Pratijnayaugandharayanam he does not ever make his stage appearance though he still remains a powerful central character of the play.

Among all the plays of Bhasa the pride of place is being given to Svapanavasavadattam. Certain critics seem to have held the view that even if all other plays go into oblivion the Svapna play will stand the test of time. According to Rajasekhara, the fire was not able to burn Svapnavasavadattam, a statement which seems to indicate that the discerning critic had placed Svapnavasavadattam above all others. This could certainly be a matter of opinion but this play has retained its popularity on the stage ever after the Bhasa plays were re-discovered.

 

VASAVADATTA AND UDAYANA

To start at the beginning, the Pratijnayaugandharayanam introduces the main stage character of the drama, the devoted indomitable minister of the famous king Udayana whose vow to rescue the king and have revenge on his captors is the central theme of the play itself. The minister is very much concerned about the intelligence report received by him that his master was likely to be captured by stealth using the ruse of an elephant. He was making preparations for sending a messenger with this report when Hamsaka who is the constant attendant on the king makes his hurried appearance with the terrible piece of information that his master had been captured. The apprehensions of Yaugandharayana had turned out to be only too true and he had been anticipated by the clever minister of Pradyota, the ruler of Avanti. The details of the incident were reported to Yaugandharayana by Hamsaka, who had been with the king all the time. King Udayana had got a report that an elephant of the celebrated category known as Blue Elephant of royal pedigree had been spotted somewhere. Udayana who was the most gifted exponent of Vina decided to Proceed ahead with that musical instrument with the idea of captivating the elephant by his musical notes. He prohibited the army from following him and went with a small group of people towards the spot where the elephant was reported to have been roaming about. Too late did the king realise that it was a ruse played by the enemy. It was an artificial elephant operated by armed warriors and it receded into the shadows as the king advanced. Knowing that he had been duped, the ,heroic king fought bravely but outnumbered and overtaken by fatigue, he was ultimately captured. Though the common soldiers who were infuriated by the loss of their near and dear ones at the hands of the brave king wanted to put him to death, Salankayana the shrewd and capable minister of the Vatsa king intervened and saved him. Sorely wounded as he was, the king was carried away from the scene of action in a palanquin as the captive of the king of Avanti who had assumed the title of Mahasena. This was the disheartening news conveyed by Hamsaka. Hamsaka had also conveyed this information that the last words communicated to him by the king was "To see Yaugandharayana". At this moment, a messenger sent by the queen mother approaches Yaugandharayana communicating this to him that she expected Yaugandharayana to restore to her the son who had been captured by the enemy. Overwhelmed by the confidence reposed in him both by his own master and by the queen mother the minister gets elated and takes the oath that if he does not succeed in getting the king released from his enemy his name will not remain Yaugandharayana. While the minister was contemplating the future course of action he gets, as if by some design, a set of garments meant for his disguise from a person who is reported to have made his appearance in a strange fashion. The hand of the much revered Dvaipayana is recognised in the act by the minister and he decides to take the guise of a mad man in order to enter the enemy ranks in disguise.


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